A lot of people are going to be disappointed with 'The Hangover Part III', which keeps its promise of not repeating the mistakes of Part II (which was essentially a remake of the original in a new location), but fails to deliver any serious laughs. In fact, the most interesting thing about 'Part III' is that it only seems to be going after laughs sporadically throughout. It's almost as if director Todd Phillips was interested in making an action movie instead of a comedy. This isn't a movie where attempts at humor consistently fall flat (although, granted, a few do). This is a movie where the attempts at humor almost come off as a distraction to the larger story.
After a short opening credit sequence where viewers see how Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong) escapes from a Bangkok prison, the movie turns its attention to the character of Alan (Zach Galifianakis) – who is off his meds to the point that he is the focus of an intervention. Alan's family and friends want him to go to a rehab facility, and his 'Wolfpack' pals – Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), and Doug (Justin Bartha) – volunteer to be the ones to drive him there. On the way, they're ambushed by a group of men wearing pig masks and led by Marshall (John Goodman), who claims that Chow has stolen a bunch of gold bars from him. Since Alan is the only one who Chow has contact with, Marshall takes Doug hostage (nicely disposing of the character once again – Bartha has never gotten any serious screen time in these films) and tells the rest of the Wolfpack they have three days to bring him Chow, or Doug will die.
The hunt for Chow leads the Wolfpack into adventures in Tijuana, the break-in of a secure house where the gold might be hidden, and eventually back to Las Vegas where, of course, it all began. The movie is well-paced and never boring, but also – as noted above – never really that funny. Todd Phillips has pretty much eliminated the 'gross out' humor that was part of the first two movies in exchange for a more straightforward action/adventure film. The most noticeable change in tone is with the Stu character, who suffered through multiple disasters in the first two films, and – aside from a post-credits sequence that is just a nice nod to fans of the original film – manages to escape 'Part III' more or less unscathed.
While the main characters are spared from any serious damage during the movie, the same can't be said for non-human life, as 'Part III' might have the largest toll of animal killings (not literally, of course!) that I've seen in any recent major motion picture (particularly one labeled as a 'comedy'). Not only is there the giraffe decapitation, which of course anyone who has seen the theatrical trailer is already aware of, but the movie also manages to off a pair of dogs and a roomful of chickens. While I didn't find any of the scenes particularly offensive (although animal lovers might wince at that giraffe scene), it does seem rather odd for a film of this nature.
Although the comedy bits are rarer in this movie than in the previous two, the flat-out attempts at humor provide more hits than they do misses, particularly an entertaining scene were Chow and Stu have to break into a secure home using dog collars. Melissa McCarthy also pops up later in the movie for a short cameo, providing for a few good laughs. Speaking of cameos, fans of the series may be pleased to learn that a few familiar faces from the original film also show up in 'Part III'. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on your view), none of these are Mike Tyson.
My biggest dilemma reviewing 'Part III' was actually determining if this was a good movie, or just a well-made bad one. It's certainly not a good comedy, nor is it an attempt just to phone-in on the success of the two prior films. All the actors are putting forth their best efforts, particularly Ken Jeong – whose Mr. Chow I found to be rather cartoonish and grating in the earlier films, but comes off as more well-rounded and sympathetic here. It would also be easy to bash Todd Phillips, who not only directed but co-wrote and produced the movie. However, the film is competently directed with some nice visuals and excellent pacing. In other words, while I never laughed much during 'Part III', I was also never bored. One wonders if Phillips was so pressured by the studio to make yet another 'Hangover' movie that – after giving viewers exactly what they expected in a sequel (to much criticism by fans and critics alike) – this time out he decided to give them exactly what they didn't expect.
In the end, 'Part III' is so different from the two films that preceded it that I can't really recommend the movie, nor can I discourage potential viewers from giving it a look. If you were a fan of the raunchy humor of the first two films, this sequel is going to be a huge letdown. However, if your attraction to the first couple of movies had more to do with the characters than the situations they were in, 'Part III' could certainly be your cup of tea. Either way, 'The Hangover Part III' is far from the disaster you've heard it to be – it's just not the movie that everyone expected.
The Blu-Ray: Vital Disc Stats
'The Hangover Part III' arrives on Blu-ray in an eco-friendly keepcase that houses a movie-only DVD, the 50GB Blu-ray, and an insert with a code for an UltraViolet digital copy. A slipcase fits over the keepcase, containing the same artwork as the box cover slick. The Blu-ray is front-loaded with a promo ad for UltraViolet, along with a trailer for We're The Millers. The DVD is front-loaded with the UltraViolet promo, an anti-tobacco ad, and trailers for Man of Steel, the Arkham Origins videogame, and We're The Millers.
While the DVD contained in this set only contains the movie, please note that the DVD-only version of the film that is being sold does contain all the bonus features found on the Blu-ray.
Although it tends toward the 'warm' side (i.e., slightly oversaturated), Warners has provided a nearly flawless video transfer of the film, full of sharp details, deep blacks, and solid contrast. Both the daytime scenes that take place in the hot desert sun and the nighttime sequences in the heart of Las Vegas are wonderfully rendered and convey the kind of crispness and clarity one expects from a great HD transfer.
Frequently seen glitches like aliasing, artifacting, and banding are non-existent here, and almost every shot is rich in color and dazzling in depth of detail. The movie is presented at the 2:40:1 aspect ratio, with a MPEG-4/AVC encode. In short, this is reference-quality stuff and while viewers may not fall in love with the film itself, they should have no complaints about the quality of the video.
'The Hangover III's' soundtrack is loaded with recognizable hit songs (both past and present), so it's nice to report that, like the video, the lossless audio track is also reference-quality. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is full of activity throughout, and although there are a ton of action sequences in the movie, they're thankfully properly balanced with the dialogue so those sequences never seem overbearing or louder than they should.
Directionality is used frequently throughout – both for the big sequences in the movie, as well as for more subtle moments. Rear speakers get a nice workout throughout, as does one's subwoofer, adding some appealing low-end noises to several of the film's scenes. Since 'The Hangover III' often feels more like an action piece than it does a comedy, the quality of the audio comes off as a pleasant surprise and as one of the better mixed movies I've reviewed this year.
In addition to the English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, 5.1 Dolby Digital options are available in both French and Spanish. Additionally, subtitles are offered in English SDH, French, and Spanish.
At first glance, it appears as if there's a healthy amount of bonus materials on this Blu-ray. However, once one dives into them, he or she will discover they're actually very thin in both quantity (added up, a little over a half hour in runtime) and quality.
'The Hangover Part III' manages to slightly redeem the series from the all-too-familiar retread that was Part II, but in doing so, the style and tone is vastly different. The humorous moments are few and far between here, but this isn't a money grab, either. The actors put forth good performances, and the movie is well-directed by Todd Phillips. Despite what appears to be an effort to appease fans by not repeating the premise for a third time, 'Part III' is so different from what came before, that it's best to rent before making a purchasing decision.